BP ignored the concerns of its contractor over the cementing of the Deepwater Horizon well shortly before it ruptured, a US hearing has been told.
Halliburton official Jesse Gagliano told federal investigators in Houston, Texas, that he was at odds with the oil giant over the need for additional centralisers — devices used to help plug a well.
But BP’s lawyers pointed to e-mails to Mr Gagliano, written on the morning of the blow-out, that suggested the contractor was happy with the procedure.
The hearing was told that, just hours before the rig exploded, a rig engineer wrote: “We have completed the job and it went well.”
But the investigating panel in Houston also heard that BP rejected recommendations from Halliburton to use 21 centralisers during the cementing job.
Halliburton feared that, without them, there could be an increased risk that the casing would be off-centre — a problem that may have led to the explosion.
Instead, the oil giant opted for six centralisers.
It was claimed that BP’s well team leader, John Guide, objected to the additional devices partly because of the additional time it would take to instal.
“I do not like this,” he wrote to a colleague prior to the explosion, in reference to the additional centralisers.
The Gulf of Mexico blow-out, on April 20, resulted in the deaths of 11 workers and the worst environmental disaster the region has seen.
Since the accident, BP has come under attack for prioritising speed and cost-cutting above safety.
Outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward was accused of presiding over “astonishing” corporate complacency during a Congressional hearing in Washington earlier this summer.
In Houston, Mr Gagliano accused BP of ignoring concerns over insufficient centralisers in a bid to speed up the process.
“BP then in turn decided not to run the additional centralisers without consulting me or their in-house specialists,” he told the panel, consisting of Coast Guard and other agency officials.
But the firm’s lawyers said that an e-mail to Mr Gagliano from Halliburton’s on-rig engineers — three hours before the blow-out — failed to mention these concerns.
During the hearing, an employee for Transocean — the contractor operating the rig — said that a pressure test problem was resolved shortly before the explosion.
Daun Winslow said he was given the “thumbs-up” by Transocean’s highest-ranking member on the rig.